RATAN-600, The World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Jul 29, 2015 5 comments

RATAN-600 (short for Radio Astronomical Telescope of the Academy of Sciences) is a radio telescope located near the village of Zelenchukskaya in the Caucasus Mountains, in Russia, at an altitude of 970 meters. Unlike most radio telescopes that utilizes a dish or an array of dishes to focus electromagnetic radiation on to a receiver or receivers, RATAN-600 employs a ring of adjustable reflecting panels which can be angled to direct the radiation from any point in the sky to a central conical receiver. Although the ring is only 576 meters in diameter, and there is no solid structure, the overall effect of the arrangement is that of a partially steerable antenna with the resolving power of a 600 meter diameter dish, making it the world's largest diameter individual radio telescope.


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The RATAN-600 is the world’s first multi-element-reflector radio telescope without any structure linking the surface elements. The functions normally performed by such structure are instead, executed by the Earth's rotation. The telescope supplies about one-quarter of all the observational material in Russia in the field of radio astronomy and more than 80% in the central, centimeter-decimeter range, is described.

One special capability of RATAN-600 is its frequency agility — the ability to quickly shift its operating frequency — allowing the telescope to scan a source over a range of frequencies in a very short time. It can make radio frequency observations in the frequency band ranging from 610 MHz to 30 GHz. This is especially useful when scanning for variable sources of radiation. The long-standing focus of the RATAN-600's scientific program, however, is the observation of the Sun at radio wavelengths, in particular of the solar corona. The telescope has also contributed to radio observation for the SETI project. (See The Arecibo Observatory).

RATAN-600 was built in 1968 and it started operating in 1974.


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The general plan of RATAN-600: 1 - circular reflector; 2 - a flat reflector; 3 - radial railways; 4 - central receiver; 5 - ring rails.


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The biggest part of the telescope are the rectangular reflecting elements. There are 895 of them and each measures 11 meters in height. Photo credit


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The flat reflector consists of 124 planar elements of height 8.5 meters and a total length of 400 meters. The elements can be rotated about a horizontal axis located near ground level. Photo credit


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The behind of the flat reflectors. Photo credit


The cylindrical reflectors that run on rails. Photo credit


The cylindrical reflectors that run on rails. Photo credit


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The ring rails upon which the flat reflectors rotate. Photo credit


The conical receiver at the center. Photo credit


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Sources: Wikipedia / Russian Wikipedia / Telescopes I've Seen - Bill Keel / IEEE.org


  1. I see that, like pretty much everything else in Russia, it's slowly rusting into the ground.

    1. And I see that pretty much like a lot of people you know nothing about Russia.

  2. No doubt how come everything in Russia looks like it belongs in south Detroit?

  3. The world's largest radio telescope is LOFAR but this is a pretty impressive piece of work. Especially looking at when they build it

  4. The greater is better idea is so epitomized inside our awareness, that simply the possibility of littler more proficient telescope appears to resist every one of the laws of science.best scope


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